About the Author: James J. is an traditional English gent from Manchester, England. When he’s not running his copywriting business, he can often be found acquiring a fine collection of lovely contusions playing Rugby.
Whiskey is a staple for most men’s liquor cabinets. It’s the foundation that plenty of good parties (and many a morning-after story… yikes) are built upon. There’s only one problem with that though: Whiskey can be expensive. Quite expensive. Especially if you want one you’re not going to need to drown with half a litre of soda.
Thankfully, you can have the best of both worlds. Here are the qualifications these whiskeys must meet in order to get mentioned in this rundown:
- Great Tasting: A Whiskey that you (and your guests) will actually want to drink
- A Small Price Tag: One that most won’t wince at the thought of paying
Whiskey is a bit like the world of watches. It can get very high end, very fast, while the still very worthwhile/yet more affordable options can get unfairly left in the dust. Arise. ARISE FROM THE DUST WORTHY WHISKEYS! Here we celebrate some of the best bang for the buck bottles worthy of your booze collection. Cheers!
Sazerac is a Rye Whiskey with a lot of history. It comes from the early 1800’s when New Orleans coffee shops sold a little more than espresso. And, at $25 a bottle, it’s a steal. Its crisp spicy taste, with a slight hint of licorice, makes it lovely to drink neat.
But, if you have the ingredients to hand, you should definitely try it in its traditional setting – the Sazerac Cocktail.
Blanton’s doesn’t come with a lot of history. But, what it loses in history it makes up in awards. It also comes in a bottle that’ll garner more than a few “what’s that?” questions from guests. It starts with a full taste of sugars, caramels and citrus, before finishing with a warm glow of honey and vanilla. Full but accessible.
This is one isn’t a mixer. It’s a sipper. To feel it’s full flavor try on the rocks or neat. (photo: John V.)
The Speyside region of Scotland is home to over 50% of their Malt Whiskey Distilleries. And, in a region of Whiskey Royalty, The Glenlivet reigns king. This 12-year-old Single Malt is made with the crispest, cleanest water from the river Livet. A river so obscure that their unofficial slogan has become, “If you find us, you’re lost”. Found on the shelf at most bars that aren’t dives, it packs a flavorful punch: biscuit, malt and toffee with an oak-barrelled finish. It all comes together to create a medium bodied taste that appeals to even the most ardent Scotch Drinker.
Serve this neat, because it already has all the flavor it needs. (photo: S. Hebbar)
The general view of Whiskey is this: the more available it is, the worse the quality. That’s why you’re not going to read about Jim Beam on this list (Editor’s Note: all due respect to Beam, and it’s winged & aged brother Old Crow). However, that stereotype shouldn’t be held against Chivas Regal. Another 12 year old on the list, their Blended Scotch Whiskey can hold it’s own. It has a true Scottish taste – blending citrus notes with peat, smoke and heather – whilst offering a sweet taste that isn’t overpowering. Inoffensive, dry and easy to drink. The perfect party Whiskey you can pick up for much less than its competitors.
Try serving on the rocks, with a splash of water, to add a little more body. But nobody would complain being served this neat.
The Whiskeys of Lowland Scotland have always been known for their light textures and flavors. And, the Glenkinchie 12 epitomizes all the best points that the lowlands has to offer. Made in one of only three distilleries left in the area, Glenkinchie use the East Lothian barley to create a light, fruity taste mixed with floral notes and honey.
This is quite a light Whiskey, but adding water does have its plus points. Keep it neat if you want a sweeter taste, whilst a drop of water brings out some of the more herbal tones. (photo: Tasma3197)
Islay is the sort of place you imagine in Braveheart. It’s rough, untamed island that’s ruled only by the elements. And, at the end of the most visited road in Malt Whiskey, lives the final distillery on this list. Ardbeg smells like a drink that has been filtered through pure, rich dirt and soil. Yet it doesn’t taste that way. Although peat is at the heart of this drink, it gives way to sweet and spicy balance with a smoky overtone that you’re palate might very well love. Not like, love.
This is my personal favorite Scotch, and I only drink it neat. But a little water doesn’t hurt the taste, either. (photo: Rob B.)
Editor’s Note: Yep, you might notice that James here has included both American Bourbons / Rye, and Scotch on this list of Whiskeys/Whiskys. For those that would like to have a cow over the terminology, lighten up. We’re in the sad sack days of February. Have a drink and relax.